Woman-made focuses on phenomenal women, making moves and breaking glass ceilings in their communities, careers, lives and businesses.
Hello everyone, and welcome to another installment of the woman-made series. Did you ,miss the previous one? catch up here.
Today I’m going to tell you about Dr. Laura Statchel. If you haven’t heard of her, she’s a board certified obstetrician-gynecologist, as well as the co-founder and medical director of WE CARE Solar, a genius invention, which helps reduce maternal mortality in developing regions by using solar electricity to provide health workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication, and blood bank refrigeration.
Dr. Laura is also a co-investigator in a MacArthur foundation project on WE CARE Solar Suitcase usage in Nigeria and Uganda. In 2013, she was named a CNN “top 10 hero” of the year for her work helping health care workers safely deliver babies in developing countries.
Poor and inadequate lighting, can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal during childbirth. Dr. Laura witnessed this first hand on a research trip to rural Nigeria in 2008. She watched as the lights went off while physicians were performing an emergency cesarean section. According to her, there were no response to this as it was something they were used to. Fortunately, she had a flashlight with her, and the doctors were able to use it to complete the surgery.
During her two week trip in 2008, she witnessed countless times when the lives of mothers and babies were put at risk because of a lack of reliable electricity. Pregnant women with severe complications would come to the hospital but because there wasn’t enough light, the procedures would be delayed until daylight, some women were even turned away. She said in her interview with CNN, that midwives in Nigeria use all kinds of makeshift lighting to deliver babies, from kerosene lanterns to candles and even cell phones.
With an estimated 40,000 childbirth related deaths in Nigeria alone, she realized her skills as an obstetrician-gynecologist were utterly useless, she had to do something. so wit the help of her husband, Hal Aronson and a solar energy educator, she worked to find a solution. She drew up designs for a solar electric system to provide a free source of power to the state hospital in Northern Nigeria where she had done her research.
While they worked on raising funds for this project, she returned to Nigeria with a small kit to show how the system would work, and what it could do. The kit was only meant for demonstration, a miniature verison of the actual system. but the surgical technicians loved it so much, they begged that she leave it with them, which she did. soon, news of her kit spread to other clinics and so each time she would return to Africa, she would come with her kits
The solar kit, includes two solar panels that are mounted on the clinics roof connected to led lights and can provide up to 20 hours of light one charged it also contains headlamps and a fetal Doppler for monitoring baby’s heart and a unit for charging cell phones.
Over time, they came up with a simpler design, that could also work in harsh environments.
Since 2009, WE CARE Solar units have been helping healthcare workers save lives not only in Nigeria, but throughout Asia and Central America. over the next year, the hospital reported that the death rate for women had decreased by 70%.
Dr Laura says that the solar suitcase is just a small part of a bigger mission to help improve maternal healthcare in developing countries.
If you want to get involved, check out the We Care Solar website at wecaresolar.org
I’m always on the lookout for more fabulous and phenomenal women, so if you know of any such persons, let me know in the comments below.